July 4, 2022


Constructor: Brooke Husic

Editor: Erik Agard

Theme Answers:
NEVILLE STAPLE (19A: Ska artist who wrote the autobiography "Original Rude Boy")
OIL PASTEL (35A: Drawing medium)
TECTONIC PLATES (51A: They can make mountains when they collide)

Theme synopsis: The last word of each theme answer is an anagram of the word PETALS: STAPLE, PASTEL, PLATES.

And now a word from our constructor:
Brooke: i've wanted to do an anagram puzzle for the USAT since Paolo's amazing Garden Variety puzzle and I'm happy i finally thought of one! i really enjoyed discovering/reading about/looking at congo's art.

Things I learned:
  • NEVILLE STAPLE (19A: Ska artist who wrote the autobiography "Original Rude Boy") NEVILLE STAPLE was a member of the ska band, The Specials, before forming his own group, The NEVILLE STAPLE Band. His music fuses Jamaican ska music with elements of punk rock and new wave. NEVILLE STAPLE's 2009 autobiography, Original Rude Boy, tells of his move from Jamaica to England as a child, and the development of his interest in music.
  • HAL (30D: NBA legend Greer) HAL Greer (1936-2018) was a professional basketball player. He began his career with NBA's Syracuse Nationals in 1958. In 1963, the team became the Philadelphia 76ers, and HAL Greer played for them until 1973. HAL Greer played in 10 consecutive NBA All-Star games (1961-1970), and was named the All-Star Game MVP in 1968. HAL Greer is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ARIA (12A: Leontyne Price solo) Leontyne Price is an operatic soprano, and was the first Black leading performer for the Metropolitan Opera. She played the role of Bess in the original production of the English-language opera, Porgy and Bess. She has won multiple Grammy Awards, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.
  • EVIE (47A: Poet Shockley) EVIE Shockley has published several collections of poetry: The Gorgon Goddess (2001), a half-red sea (2006), 31 words * prose poems (2007), the new black (2011), and semiautomatic (2017). Reading this thought-provoking poem by EVIE Shockley would be a good way to spend a few minutes of your July 4 holiday: "women's voting rights at one hundred (but who's counting?)."
  • APE (49A: Animal such as the abstract painter Congo) Congo (c. 1954-1964) was a chimpanzee (and therefore an APE). Zoologist Desmond Morris gave Congo a pencil when he was studying the creative habits of apes. Noticing Congo had an interest in creating art, Desmond Morris provided him with paints and brushes. Congo spent three years in the 1950s creating over 400 abstract paintings. Fifty-five of Congo's paintings were exhibited at a London gallery in 2019
  • TECTONIC PLATES (51A: They can make mountains when they collide) TECTONIC PLATES are giant slabs of the Earth's crust and mantle. Scientists have studied (and continue to study) TECTONIC PLATES to understand how landforms, such as mountains, have developed. This was my favorite theme answer, and the clue is fantastic.
  • SNAP (63A: Pocketbook fastener) and CLASP (50D: Gold chain fastener) This was a fasten-ating pair. I especially like that the two answers are fastened together at the letter P.
  • WAVE CAP (3D: Post-brush head cover) A WAVE CAP is similar to a durag. Both serve to protect hairstyles and maintain waves.
  • WILL (6D: "King Richard" star Smith) King Richard is a 2021 biographical movie about Richard Williams, the father and coach of Venus and Serena Williams. WILL Smith plays the title role, Saniyya Sidney plays Venus Williams, and Demi Singleton plays Serena Williams. 
  • POLE SPORTS (27D: Athletic activity inspired by exotic dancers) POLE SPORTS, also known as poling, developed as an athletic activity in the 1990s and 2000s. Poling involves climbing up, spinning from, hanging off of, and flipping onto poles. As you might imagine, POLE SPORTS improve muscle strength and flexibility as well as providing a cardio workout.
  • EAR (37D: Pointy part of a shiba inu) Shiba inu is a Japanese breed of hunting dog characterized by long, thick fur, pointed EARs, and tails that curl.
  • AVATARS (41D: Forms for Vishnu) Vishnu is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. In Hinduism, AVATARS refer to the Earthly incarnation, or material appearances of deities.

    Geography review:

    • MST (22D: Albuquerque time zone, for short) Albuquerque is the most populous city in New Mexico. The city was named to honor the 10th Duke of Albuquerque, who was the Viceroy of New Spain when the city was founded in 1706. (New Spain was a territory of the Spanish Empire from 1521-1821.) New Mexico is on Mountain Standard Time (MST) when Daylight Saving Time is not in effect.
    I enjoy anagram themes, and this was a fun one, with a nice set of theme answers. Answers I liked that I haven't highlighted above: FELT BETTER, DIVE BAR, SEESAWS, and TOTEMS. Thank you, Brooke, for this puzzle that was a delightful way to begin my Monday.


    1. Today’s puzzle was super fun! Thanks for sharing your insights. I also loved “felt better.”


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